Blast! Part 4: Choosing An Email Marketing Service

March 2, 2012 0
Blast! Part 4: Choosing An Email Marketing Service

You have ambitious goals for your email marketing campaign, so you shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask for help! For the owner or operator who has too much on his or her plate to take on a fully loaded email marketing project, services like MailChimp and Constant Contact offer an invaluable service. With these on your side, your email campaign could make the difference between you and the less-informed self-storage marketer.

When to use an email marketing service
Before you tie yourself to an email marketing service, think about the marketing goals you hope to accomplish with your campaign. Are you aiming to increase referrals, market new storage supplies, or solicit reviews? How often are you planning to reach out to your email list, and what information do you want to convey? Having your end game in mind will help you narrow your search and provide talking points for any strategic consultations you might (and should) schedule with prospective service providers. You’ll also have a better idea of what tasks you can handle, and which areas (if any) might need an extra hand.

What to look for
How can your facility benefit from an email marketing service? Here are a few of the features you should look for in your search:

Branding. A good email service will be able to integrate your brand look and feel in all of your emails. This includes your logo and design conventions, as well as messaging consistent with all your other self-storage marketing efforts.
Scheduling and reliability. The service should provide an intuitive (and customizable) way to schedule your marketing emails. See our Email Marketing: Part 2 blog post for a few ways to approach email scheduling.
List building. The foundation of all email marketing efforts is contact lists. Email services should adhere to all email regulations while helping to grow your reader base and decrease negative feedback, bad contacts and unsubscribes. You should be able to create and edit multiple lists for multiple audiences.
Metrics tracking. We covered a few of the most important metrics related to email marketing in Part 3 of our email marketing blog series. Many services will have built-in tools to help you track these metrics, but make sure they can easily integrate with your preferred analytics tool as well to get the full marketing picture.
Content building. If you just don’t have time to compose and format the email yourself, some services will do it for you if you provide the necessary information. Just be sure you have an easy way to review the final draft and make last-minute changes.

These should all be functions of a viable email service, and you can pick and choose which features to use. Regardless of how much help you need, make sure the email service has good customer support. Even if you think you understand how it works, problems always arise, especially in the detail-oriented world of email marketing. Explore the service’s website and look for a comprehensive FAQ section, tutorials, or a live online chat/email service. Also check to see if they have a support phone number with a short wait time.

Now that you know what you’re looking for, you may be overwhelmed by the options. Become familiar with pricing structure— some clients have a per-email plan while others charge according to how extensive your contact lists are. Again, test their customer support, and throw a few curve balls to see how they handle themselves.

Playing the field
Rachel Greenfield, Marketing Analyst for SpareFoot and our resident email marketing expert for this series, said email marketing is not necessarily a monogamous relationship. For example, while Mailchimp provides excellent newsletter templates and an intuitive interface, their spam filters can be overly restrictive.

The bottom line, Rachel said: “Sometimes you need different services for different lists or needs, so it is worth experimenting with several to establish your ideal mix.”

Rachel advised owners and operators to get hands-on by keeping their eyes out for trial versions. Once you think you’ve gained a familiarity with the service, “make your choice based on your own comfort level and preference for overall look and feel.”

Hopefully, by now you’ll have a good idea of what you’re looking for and how to make a decision. To kick off your search, check out these review sites for a side-by-side comparison of the better-known email marketing services here and here.

Now be sure to read the other articles in this series: 
Email Marketing 1: List building
Email Marketing 2: Planning and scheduling
Email Marketing 3: Metrics

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